DECATUR, Ill. – Eric Kittel drained a half-court shot as the horn sounded to cap an improbable 84-81 non-conference come-from-behind victory for Concordia University Wisconsin over Millikin University on Saturday inside the Griswold Center. The Falcons trailed by 17 points with just over six minutes to play.
Kittel drained a 3-pointer with one minute to play to cut the CUW deficit to two points. A defensive stand on the ensuing possession and a three-point play by Bradley Prinsen gave the Falcons a one-point advantage with just over eight seconds to play.
MU drove the length of the court and was awarded two free throws after the Falcons were whistled for a blocking foul. Deavis Johnson made the first free throw, but missed the second and it was rebounded by sophomore Dustin Thumann (Marshfield, Wis.). He threw an outlet pass to Kittel who took two dribbles and let the ball fly.
It seemed like an eternity as the ball floated through the air, but as the horn sounded and the ball swished through the net, the Falcons piled on the rookie point guard in celebration.
"I am so proud of the effort every player is giving every day," head coach Shawn Cassidy said. "We fought hard tonight against a good Millikin team on the road. Eric's shot capped an incredible comeback win."
CUW never quits and it surely didn't during this time, despite trailing for nearly 70 percent of the game. It struggled offensively in the opening half (29.6 percent), but responded with a 63.0 percent effort down the stretch.
Senior Boubacar Camara (Cenon, France) came to play and scored a career-high 19 points on 6-of-10 from the field and 7-of-9 at the charity stripe. He also stole a career-best two passes. Kittel (freshman, Brillion, Wis.) also had a career game with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including six 3-pointers, along with a career-high-tying five steals.
Prinsen (sophomore, Oostburg, Wis.) finished with 11 points and four assists. Senior Steven Brodie (Oak Park, Calif.) ended with seven points, including 5-of-5 at the free throw line.
Four MU (5-4) players scored in double-figures and was led by TJ Griffin's game-high 27 points. Tommy Pilackas and Bryn Agnew combined for 23 off the bench, while Tives Gardner had 10 points.
The Falcons (3-5) won the turnover battle 20-25, but were outrebounded 33-23 as their leading rebounder Brett Boettcher (sophomore, New Holstein, Wis.) played just 15 minutes and fouled out. The Big Blue also had a 30-14 advantage in paint scoring.
After a Keith Kahlfeldt (sophomore, New Berlin, Wis.) long ball, Kittel triple and Camara three-point play, CUW built a 9-0 lead with 14:33 to play in the first half. MU slowly chipped away at the deficit and tied the game at 21-21. They ended the half with an 18-7 scoring run to take a 39-28 lead at the intermission.
The Big Blue held an 18-4 lead in paint scoring and a 14-8 lead in points off turnovers. Gardner and Griffin led all scorers at halftime with 10 points.
CUW's 17-point deficit began to dwindle when Prinsen drained his only long ball of the game, followed by a pair of free throws from Camara. Less than a minute later junior Mark Scholz (Greenfield, Wis.) made a free throw and Kittel followed with a trifecta to cut MU's lead to 10 points with 4:46 to play.
Scholz made a layup, but the Big Blue answered with four-straight points to extend their lead back to 12 points. From then on, Kittel made three 3-pointers, Camara scored six points and Prinsen recorded a three-point play.
The Falcons bench came alive in the second half with 23 of their 39 points in the game.
CUW returns to action on Tuesday in a Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference matchup at Dominican University at 7 p.m.